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Inside the Artist’s Studio: Diane Ditzler Frossard

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“The Searchers”

By Derrick White

John Ford’s “The Searchers” (1956) was my dad’s favorite film. It is a milestone Hollywood western, a Technicolor marvel with shades of emotional melancholy, tackling the myth of manifest destiny with a man’s horseback quest to find and recover his remaining family. I will always associate this western and horses with my dad. He raised horses throughout his life more often than not. One of my earliest memories is my dad giving me a horse drawing lesson starting with two circles and simple shapes.

So, there is an instantaneous wistfulness when I see the exceptional work of local artist Diane Ditzler Frossard. This artist works in a variety of media including oils, watercolor, graphite, and charcoal. She has an extraordinary capacity to capture the essence of natural light on her realistic subjects and allows quick expressive marks and brushstrokes to build and become greater than the sum of their parts. A captured realism created from magically expressive movements leaves the viewer to become the searcher and reap the rewards of taking a double take and examining with a closer eye Frossard’s amazing artwork.

“It is gratifying when someone is drawn to one of these paintings, saying it reminds them of something familiar to them,” the artist stated. “As early as I can remember, I have had a passion for two things: art and horses. My father, an avid horseman, introduced me to horses at an early age, and they have always been a part of my life. I also loved drawing or doing anything related to art in my spare time. My mother briefly took an oil painting class. I thought her painting was wonderful, but she felt otherwise and didn’t continue. I asked if I could use her leftover paints and canvas. Although I had no idea what I was doing I had fun creating my first oil painting (of my paint horse) when I was about 10 years old.”

Diane Frossard has a degree in geology, not the typical path for an aspiring full-time artist. She knew she wanted to pursue art, but only painting what interested her and not have the pressure of having to support herself financially so she, and her husband, both worked as geologists. They moved their family to Tyler and established a ranch. Their horses are like family members, pampered, occasionally ridden, and often the subjects in her paintings.

“I still have the offspring of one of my childhood horses. He is now 33, and we have grown up together,” Frossard said.

Frossard is a Master Signature Member of the Outdoor Painter’s Society, a national plein air (painting outdoor subjects in the open air) group featuring the annual exhibition, Plein Air Southwest. Many of her landscapes are produced specifically for this exhibition. These landscapes are fairly small because they were created on location and had to be executed within a specific time frame before the light changed too much.

She says her inspiration usually comes when she is not looking for it: while feeding horses, doing chores, or taking walks. The lighting and time of day are crucial to making a seemingly mundane subject come alive. Thirteen of Frossard’s landscape paintings were featured at the Tyler Museum of Art in 2015 in the “Reflections of East Texas” exhibition.

Artists search for guidance. With the support of her husband, Diane has attended and learned from many different workshops.

“Bruce Peil was my mentor and introduced me to plein air painting. Paintings from life are bold, fresh, and immediate small works of art. I highly recommend Bruce Peil who works and teaches out of his renovated barn/studio, in Athens, to anyone looking for a good foundation in landscape painting,” the artist suggested.

Artists search for the sublime. “The older I get, the stronger my desire is to take the ordinary things I see in my life and bring forth something unique and poetic from it. The reference is a jumping off point. The challenge is being able to tap into your muse and bring out unique, mystical, and sometimes fleeting images from your mind. For me, it is most often done through the use of light,” Frossard said.

Artists search for development. Solitary practice is important and experiencing frustrating failures helps one grow as an artist.

“My breakthroughs and improvements most often come during those independent, alone times. I actually learn the most just from closely studying the work of master artists and staring at paintings in museums and online, how they solved problems, their compositions, brushwork, etc,” Frossard said.

Frossard is searching to give back to her community in a variety of ways. “In gratitude for all who have shared their insight and expertise with me, I like to share what I have learned,” she said. Frossard has been volunteering for a couple of art classes at St. Gregory School for 15 years.

Other projects include the “Hope” column for the “Pillars of Hope” mural project under the Gentry St. Bridge where homeless and others gather for church. She is currently working on a painting of the Tyler Square, which will be offered through auction at “The Art of Transformation” fundraiser on November 16th. All proceeds from the sale of this painting will benefit the Highway 80 Rescue Mission’s Triumph Village, a new housing project and recovery program for the homeless.

Artists search for satisfaction. Diane stated, “Non-artists often don’t realize, unless you are married to one, a lot of hard work, frustration, planning, and years of experience go into a good painting that looks simple and easily executed. It is hard to make it look effortless. It is not all fun, requires problem solving, and can be stressful at times, but tremendously worth it. It never gets any easier, because you are constantly working at a higher level; the more you learn and improve, the more your critical eye is ahead of your current ability. It can be frustrating at times when people don’t understand the value of original art: the expense of materials, canvas, paints, brushes, etc., the time involved, plus the years of experience.”

For more info about Diane Frossard go to DianeFrossard.com. Her work can currently be seen at Artist Showplace in Dallas and Valerosa in Tyler.

For anyone interested in figure drawing, Tyler has a life drawing group on Thursday evenings 6-9pm for $20 at Brick Street Studios, 1000 Augusta hosted by Russell Belue. For more info email beluesky2015@gmail.com.

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Call for Entries: Art of Peace Tyler Visual Art Exhibit

Entries are now being accepted for the “Sowing Seeds of Peace” Visual Art Exhibit as part of the Art of Peace – Tyler celebration, a citywide commemoration of the United Nations International Day of Peace, September 21st.

“Art of Peace – Tyler is happy to once again to partner with the Tyler Museum of Art to invite regional artists to offer their creative responses to the idea of peace and to our 2018 theme, ‘Sowing Seeds of Peace’,” said Anne McCrady, co-founder and co-director of the peace event.

The visual art show will be presented as a juried exhibit in the museum’s education classroom September 16th-23rd, at the Tyler Museum of Art, 1300 S. Mahon Ave, on the Tyler Junior College main campus. The exhibit will be open to the public and admission is free.

The jury for selection will consist of members of the Art of Peace – Tyler committee and TMA representatives. The jury has the option to select up to two works per artist for inclusion in the show. Past exhibits have included the work of artists from Austin, Dallas, Lubbock and the East Texas area.

“We are privileged that the Art of Peace – Tyler committee once again has asked us to be the host venue for this exhibition,” TMA Executive Director Chris Leahy said. “The work we have seen over the past four years of our partnership has grown increasingly more dynamic and accomplished, and we are proud to have the opportunity to participate in such a great community event.”  

For more information about Art of Peace – Tyler events, visit tylerpeace.com. For questions about the art exhibition, e-mail artofpeaceart@gmail.com.

Sunday, September 23rd, there will be an Artist reception at 3pm.

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Art

David Bates: Works from Texas Collections on Exhibit

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The Tyler Museum of Art (TMA) is located at 1300 S. Mahon Ave. on the Tyler Junior College main campus. Regular TMA hours are 10am-5pm Tuesday-Saturday, and 1-5pm Sunday. The Museum is closed Mondays and most major holidays. The Museum is supported by its members, Tyler Junior College, and the City of Tyler. For more info call the museum at (903)595-1001, tylermuseum.org, or email info@tylermuseum.org.

David Bates, one of the most acclaimed artists in Dallas, is the focus of Tyler Museum of Art’s summer exhibition, “David Bates: Selected Works from Texas Collections” on view through September 9th.

Curated by the museum’s Caleb Bell, the exhibition features close to 30 works surveying the prolific career of Bates, one of the most versatile and widely collected contemporary Texas artists. Spanning art from 1982 to 2016 works in the show highlight several of Bates’ most celebrated series and include a wide array of media: oil painting, lithographs, woodcuts, screenprints and bronze sculpture. The show was assembled from art in public and private collections throughout the state, including the museum’s own permanent collection. Bates’ work is widely exhibited and included in several museum and corporate art collections.

Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for seniors. Museum members, students, TJC faculty/staff and city of Tyler employees are admitted free. Support for exhibit is provided by The Byars Foundation.

Family Days

Free admission, interactive art projects, light snacks and a festive atmosphere for all ages are on the menu from 2-4pm the second Saturday of each month with the Tyler Museum of Art’s Family Day. This popular program focuses on fostering a deeper understanding of the Museum’s spotlight exhibitions – and, above all, having fun! To RSVP for groups of 10 or more, please call (903)595-1001 or e-mail info@tylermuseum.org.

First Friday

The first Friday of each month, the TMA offers a full day of free admission plus guided tours of its spotlight exhibitions at 11am. From contemporary Texas art to Hudson River School to Andy Warhol, each tour is unique.

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Around East Texas

Inside the Artist’s Studio: Dedicated Young Warriors


The Art and Illustrations of Micah Lewis

By Derrick White

“I continually push myself to try a new medium or style, or just simply work harder with what I’ve got. I’ve grown to love studies in my sketchbooks and understand the importance of slowing down for a bit and working out the kinks or just wrapping my mind around how to draw something,” states local artist Micah Lewis. In my career as an art professor at TJC, I work with many students who aspire to become professional artists. After decades of instructing, I have found the most important qualities in making the dream of living as a professional artist come true are dedication and perseverance. Those who are truly dedicated to their art and process will succeed and they persist through all setbacks.

Micah Lewis is one such devoted artist living and working from the red brick streets in downtown Tyler. My first introduction to Micah was through a Facebook page coordinating Free Art Fridays encouraging participants to place or seek hidden art in downtown Tyler and beyond. We have connected through social media, and I have had the pleasure of meeting her in real life at local establishments. Through her posts and comments one can conclude she is a fun, determined, dedicated, persistent and successful artist. In addition to being a professional artist, Micah is also a committed wife and mother. Her web site describes Micah as, “a self-taught artist who finds beauty in all of God’s creation, particularly in people… and coffee. Having a heart for creativity from a young age, she draws inspiration from tattoo art, comic books, or old Godzilla movies. Additionally, she has a peculiar knack for portraits where she can capture the natural emotion present in each subject.”

My formal training was limited to half a semester of art during my sophomore year of high school. Somehow, I ended up in a class full of students just attempting to fill a credit. It was a disruptive environment in which the other students regularly sabotaged my projects. So, my path has been one of self-learning with trial and error,” says Lewis. Micah’s art is influenced by comic book art and executed through her unique surrealist lens. She considers her style of art lowbrow and also enjoys painting watercolor portraits. She states, “Four years ago, if someone told me I would love watercolor and use it almost daily, I would not have believed it. I used to loathe watercolor. It didn’t seem like there was a lot of control. It just wasn’t as smooth as I like. When I revisited the concept after a few years I fell in love. I really and truly enjoy creating with watercolor. In achieving a variety of line weights, I use a Pentel pocket brush pen (typically used for calligraphy). I love the contrast inking gives my pieces. It pulls the soft washes together with bolder, inconsistent lines.”

Like many artists, Micah can trace her inspiration back to childhood. “It’s difficult to pinpoint. The earliest drawings I recall were on the inside cover of the coloring books my sisters and I had. Coloring a picture felt like more of a chore to me. So, I just drew my own pictures on the blank inner covers. Sorry, Lisa Frank! When I got a bit older, I kept a sketchbook. It just became a part of who I am. It is shocking to me I became a professional artist. It still baffles me. I remember telling people I wanted to be an artist when I grew up as early as first grade, and maybe I was just too stubborn to not make it happen,” states the artist.

For Micah, dedication and perseverance in her art means growth. She explains, “I can always learn, study, and work towards improvement. Finding a voice is difficult; especially given the understanding your audience may never quite comprehend the images in your mind and the emotions accompanying those images. I think it is pretty easy to pander to your audience with the pressure for success but creating, for me, was never meant to be superficial. The intent of art is communication, and communication on a deep level of who we are and the emotions driving us as people. Art should be a connection, but not a cheap one. I still have to remind myself of this from time to time and just strive to be authentic.”

Micah Lewis finds inspiration in the work of other artists, citing one of her favorites is Berlinde de Bruyckere (a Belgian contemporary artist sculpting unsettling forms in various media including wax, wood, wool, horse skin and hair. She also works in watercolor). “I hope one day I have the opportunity to meet her or just experience one of her installations in person. Her ability to sculpt with wax, wood, and natural fibers is pure wizardry and you’ll never convince me otherwise. I have a copy of her book, “In the Woods There Were Chainsaws.” The pages are yellowed and warped and the spine has a gash in it, but it’s only because I’ve loved it so dang much. I draw so much inspiration from her dedication to detail,” exclaims Lewis.

Micah’s life and art career are very busy with multiple upcoming projects. “This summer, I will be working on a few murals around Tyler, one for Strada Caffè and I am also working on a few murals at True Vine Brewing Company in their new location (2453 Earl Campbell Pkwy) and later this year, I’m excited to curate my first show for The Foundry Coffee House in downtown Tyler. Submissions will start in November and the show will open in January. I’m excited to meet new artists and take on this new role. Interested artists should follow the Foundry Coffee House’s Facebook page for more information as it becomes available. Locally, you can find Micah’s original artworks and prints available for purchase at El Guapo Records, Strada Caffè, The Foundry, and Moss just to name a few local love friendly places.

You can follow the art, projects and progress of Micah Lewis at:

www.instagram.com/theyoungwarrior

www.facebook.com/micahtheyoungwarrior

www.micahlewisart.com/

Commission or collaboration requests can be filled out via the contact form on Micah Lewis’ web site. I recommend you commit yourself to looking through and purchasing some of these dedicated young warrior’s creations for your very own.


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